An Angel walks in Contrasting the scene of Santa Cruz, there
is a Sikh lady in La Paz who is teaching Kundalini Yoga and
a follower of Yogi Bhajan’s 3HO. Sham Kaur (Gisela),
a Bolivian by birth, wearing a white turban and “khanda”
emblem and white flowing robes, walks into the Hotel in La
Paz and the Hotel staff go in a spin. It was truly an angelic
entrance. She had agreed to meet with the author. Sham Kaur,
a highly educated lady, provided a contrast in practice of
Sikh religion - symbols and all, without belonging to or having
been to Punjab against the earlier encounter with the Santa
Cruz Sikhs from the land of Sikh religion’s origin and
major following. Despite the constraints on her to wear western
clothes during working hours as a senior Government official,
she believes in and practices the Sikh dharma. She is single
handedly trying to propagate Sikh faith in Bolivia. At 34
years, she finds great solace in following the teachings of
the Sikh Gurus and the words of SGGS. Her life story is detailed
Sham Kaur (Gisela):
Interview on 31 August in La Paz, Hotel Apart Casa
“I was born on 26 April 1971. My family background is
mainly Christian, both parents are Christian and I was raised
and born in La Paz, Bolivia. I attended school here and later
decided to go abroad to Chile where I studied for 8 years.
A degree in Industrial Engineering was followed by a Masters
degree and an MBA in International Business, all from Chile.
There after I joined Brown University in USA for an Environmental
Program. Presently I am working for the Government on Green
House Reduction Project. I have been working here for past
five years and am now running the office since last year.
I have also lived in Peru working in natural resources development
specializing in climate change. I started doing Kundalini
yoga three years ago and at that time there was no regular
teacher. Some people came to conduct workshops. At that time
Nam Nidhan Kaur came from Chile. She was training students
to become teachers. I had this nice coincidence that I was
in Peru, where a course was getting started. I decided it
was a wonderful thing for me to do. There was no teacher in
La Paz and I thought I could propagate technique to others.
I studied in Peru for one year and when I came here I had
this opportunity to open a center with some friends to teach
Kundalini Yoga which is very new in this country. Since then
I have been very involved in these issues. I wanted to know
the origin / source of this wonderful and amazing technique
and to find out more about Yogi Bhajan and the set up in Espanola,
USA. I wanted to know about the Sikhs as this was more like
a research for me. It was exciting for me to visit a place
about which I did not know anything i.e. Sikhs in Espanola.
I stayed there with the community for a week and it was wonderful
experience. I took a “Japji” course, and had the
opportunity to meet so many wonderful teachers and people.
It was amazing to see the radiance of Yogi Bhajan even though
he was very ill at the time. In the second “Japji”
course Yogi Ji appeared, and it was great to see him, be in
his presence and to hear him. I got to meet Bibi Ji and others.
There were many people from Latin Countries (Chile, Mexico,
Spain) living there. So I had a warm welcome in Esponala.
It was my first time to attend a Gurdwara and to learn about